Smithsonian Science How Webcast Archives

Photo of host Maggy Benson and paleontologist Nick Pyenson

Host Maggy Benson and paleontologist Nick Pyenson discuss fossil whales in the first Smithsonian Science How webcast, January 16, 2014. Smithsonian photo by Wei Qian.

Welcome to the Smithsonian Science How webcast archives! We’re putting Smithsonian experts in every classroom with webcasts aligned with national science standards. These webcasts originally aired live from the Q?rius theater in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Here you can access past programs and view them whenever you want. Webcasts are listed in reverse chronological order (newest first).


 Photo of geologist Tim McCoy in the field

June 25, 2015 - Astrogeology - Meteorites and Spacecraft Missions

Have you ever wondered how we study asteroids and other bodies in our solar system without sending spacecraft to all of them? Meet geologist Tim McCoy, who wrote code for the Mars Spirit rover, and learn why meteorites are great sources of information.

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 Photo of Joshua A. Bell with cellphones

June 4, 2015 - Unseen Connections - A Natural History of the Cellphone

Could you live without your cellphone? Meet cultural anthropologist Joshua A. Bell. He studies the social implications of the cellphone being one of our most intimate possessions. Explore the cellphone supply chain and how these gadgets are changing the world.

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 Photo of anthropologist David Hunt

May 7, 2015 - Mummy Science - Natural and Cultural Preserved Remains

Meet anthropologist David Hunt, who is an expert on mummies and how they are made. Did you know that mummies are often made accidentally? Compare human-made mummies to naturally-made mummies as we take a journey into research on people of the past.

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 Photo of Mike Wise with quartz boulder

April 16, 2015 - Mineral Dependence - Gemstones to Cellphones

Meet geologist Michael Wise. He studies unusual rocks called pegmatites, which he considers to be "Nature’s Giant Treasure Chests" because they often contain large and rare crystals. How would your life be different without these unique rocks?

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Photo of Karen Osborn working on a research ship

March 26, 2015 - Ocean Biodiversity - Discovering Marine Invertebrates

What unknown creatures live in the open ocean? Join zoologist Karen Osborn as she peers into the ocean depths using a remotely operated vehicle to look for organisms. See the life she discovers in the mid-water habitat 200-4,000 meters down. Find out how zoologists give names to the new species they find.

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Photo of Cara Santelli

March 12, 2015 - Mineral Transformations - Demystifying MIcrobes

Did you know that microbes are a solution to pollution? Meet geologist Cara Santelli, who studies the relationship between minerals and microbes, such as bacteria and fungi. Learn how she works to better understand how microbes can help clean up metal pollutants from old coal mines.

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Photo of Brian Huber

Feb. 12, 2015 - Global Change - Reading Ocean Fossils

Meet paleobiologist Brian Huber, who specializes in tiny organisms called foraminifera (forams) that are great indicators of global changes. How can a microscopic organism that most people have never seen be so useful? Take a journey with Brian to find out how forams can tell stories about conditions on Earth millions of years ago.

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Photo of Rusty Russell in U.S. National Herbarium

Jan. 15, 2015 - Ecosystem Change - Plotting with Plant Collections

Meet Botany Collections Manager Rusty Russell, who manages collections activities in the U.S. National Herbarium, a research collection that contains more than 5 million pressed, dried plant specimens. He discusses how plant collections reveal the stories of our changing landscapes – and how citizens scientists can help with the research.

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Helen James conducting research in a Hawaiian cave

Dec. 11, 2014 - Bird Extinctions - Time Travel through Lava Tubes

How can common birds such as the passenger pigeon go extinct? Join ornithologist Helen James to consider what factors make birds vulnerable to extinction. Follow Helen into Hawaiian lava tubes to look for fossil evidence of bird life on the islands. See which bird species survived and which did not after humans arrived on the scene.

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Smithsonian archaeologist Torben Rick on a beach in California's Channel Islands

Nov. 6, 2014 - Island Biodiversity - Tracking Human Influences

How did early Americans impact the coastal environment? Join archaeologist Torben Rick in analyzing evidence from human settlements in California’s Channel Islands and along the Chesapeake Bay. Learn how studying human impacts from thousands of years ago can help manage island ecosystems today.

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Kirk Johnson holding plant fossils

Oct. 8, 2014 - Mass Extinction: Solving the Dinosaur Mystery with Kirk Johnson

What caused the large dinosaurs to go extinct? Join Kirk Johnson, a paleobotanist and Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, as he explores the extinction and recovery stories told by fossils found at the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota. Examine evidence for the causes and consequences of the mass extinction. 

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Scott Wing on a red earth hillside in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming

June 5, 2014 - Paleobotany - Climate Change Past and Present with Scott Wing

Learn how paleobotanist Scott Wing reads past climates from fossilized leaves. See how plant communities have changed in response to global climate changes. Understand today's warming of our planet in a geological context.

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Geologist Elizabeth Cottrell in her lab

May 15, 2014 - Volcano Geochemistry: Windows to Earth's Interior with Elizabeth Cottrell

What do volcanoes reveal about the Earth? Geologist Elizabeth Cottrell explains how volcanoes form, how they work, and what comes out of them. See what she learns from volcanic rocks collected from the seafloor.

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Carole Baldwin in a mini-submarine

April 24, 2014 – Exploring the Unexplored: Deep Reef Biodiversity with Carole Baldwin

Meet marine biologist Carole Baldwin and learn how she studies fish diversity on coral reefs at depths of 200-1,000 feet. Find out what new species she has discovered.

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Chris Meyer sits on a boat near Moorea

April 10, 2014 – Measuring Biodiversity: Life in One Cubic Foot with Chris Meyer

Dive into the diverse world of coral reefs with marine biologist Chris Meyer! Learn how he uses “reef hotels” to study the biodiversity of coral reefs in Indonesia and French Polynesia – and why biodiversity research is vital.

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Briana Pobiner studies a zebra bone in a field

March 27, 2014 – Human Evolution: Early Human Diets with Briana Pobiner

What did early humans have for dinner a million years ago? Anthropologist Briana Pobiner explores the influence of diet, especially the shift to meat eating, on human evolution. 

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Dan Babbitt holding a Malayan jungle nymph

March 13, 2014 – Arthropod Adaptations: Inside the Insect Zoo with Dan Babbitt

Discover the survival secrets of insects and other arthropods. Dan Babbitt, manager of the Museum's Insect Zoo, brings a few of his favorite segmented friends onto the set and explains their unique behavior.

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Kari Bruwelheide examines a human skull

February 27, 2014 – Forensic Anthropology: Bone Whispering with Kari Bruwelheide

For forensic anthropologist and “Museum CSI” Kari Bruwelheide, every bone tells a story – sometimes a grisly one. Learn how she examines human skeletons to solve mysteries, including whether Jamestown settlers practiced "survival cannibalism."

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Carla Dove examines feathers in her lab

February 12, 2014 – Forensic Ornithology: Bird Detective with Carla Dove

What happens when birds and airplanes collide? Ornithologist Carla Dove shares how the Feather Identification Lab helps make us safer on planes and birds safer in the air.

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Nick Pyenson on a beach with a fossil

January 16, 2014 – Unearthing Fossil Whales with Nick Pyenson

Join paleontologist Nick Pyenson in uncovering fossil whales in Panama, Canada, and Chile and probing their evolutionary mysteries using 3D laser scanning technology.

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Photo credits for the tables, from top to bottom: Season 2 - Image courtesy of Myaamia Center Archives; Jennifer Renteria, Smithsonian Institution; Smithsonian image 2011-01254 by Chip Clark; Smithsonian Institution; Courtesy of Steve Haddock, MBARI; Courtesy of Sarah Carmichael, Appalachian State University; Kay Behrensmeyer, Smithsonian Institution; Smithsonian Institution Archives, SIA-2002-24193; Photo courtesy of Carla H. Kishinami, The Bishop Museum; photo courtesy of Todd Braje, San Diego State University.; Diana Marsh, Smithsonian Institution. Season 1 - Courtesy of Ira Block; Wei Qian, Smithsonian Institution; Barry Brown, Substation Curacao; David Liittschwager; courtesy of Dr. Fire Kovarovic; courtesy of Cameron Davidson; Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution; David Price, Smithsonian Institution; courtesy of J. A. Goldbogen.